This book has 155 pages of the biggest text I’ve seen in a book not for children or blind people, and one argument: everyone is conspiring against everyone about everything.
Of course, when you point at everything, you’re really pointing at nothing. If a New World Order existed and included everyone from George W Bush, Gorbachev, Kissinger, Mao, “Adolph” Hitler, Stalin, Reagan, Osama bin Laden, and all the world’s royal families and billionaires, you could never write a book like this. The New World Order would control everything, and anyone seeking to expose them would disappear.
This is the odd thing about Alex Jones’ world: there’s no room in it for Alex Jones. The One World Government would never allow a man like him to live. His closing request that you send him money – “The Republic is in great danger of being completely overthrown” – prompts a rather incredulous response: “you just told me that every President since Eisenhower meets annually at Bohemian Grove to perform human sacrifice. What’s left to overthrow?”
But internal logic doesn’t matter to people like Jones. A 2012 scientific study found that belief in one conspiracy predicts belief in another conspiracy…even when that conspiracy contradicts the first. In other words, if you answer “yes” to the statement “Princess Diana faked her own death”, then you are more likely to answer “yes” to the statement “Princess Diana was murdered.”
I’ve seen Holocaust denialists simultaneously argue that 1) Auschwitz had no crematoriums, and 2) the rate at which Auschwitz could cremate bodies was insufficient to conduct the Holocaust. I’ve seen 9/11 truthers simultaneously argue that 1) the pilots were CIA patsies 2) the buildings were hit by a cruise missile.
Normal people are driven by a need to make sense of the world. Conspiracy theorists are driven by narcissism of the intellect: they alone know the truth, and everyone else is a gullible fool. This is why they binge watch Youtube and scroll Twitter for sixteen hours a day. Facts are dollars: the more of them you have, the richer you are. That these facts are collectively forming a mountain of nonsense doesn’t even register to them.
I found Descent into Tyranny to be a slog. Jones has the wearisome, hectoring style of a loud-mouthed radio host who’s used to shouting over guests and callers, and reading it made me pity whoever has to sit down with him at Thanksgiving. You couldn’t have a reasonable discussion with this person about anything.
Sometimes Jones’ shoot-from-the-hip writing style produces funny results. On page 15 he repeats the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but he gets it jumbled: he has Nero fiddling while setting fire to Rome (perhaps while holding a firebrand between his toes.)
Most of the time, however, it just makes the book even sloppier and less grounded in fact. On page 101, he writes “For years, we warned people about FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The federal documents have been around for decades and include round-up plans and concentration camps.” End of section. New section. Such vapid handwaving would be fine on the radio, but this is a book. Can we please see excerpts from these supposed “federal documents”?
Descent Into Tyranny was written in 2002. I was curious to see how Jones’ political outlook evolved over time, as I vaguely remember Infowars being a left-libertarianish outlet at the start. The book has a lot of time for conspiracies beloved of left-wingers: IMF, the World Bank, David Koresh being a harmless hippie who was victimized by the feds, etc. It’s published by a small outlet called Progressive Press, whose other titles can be viewed online. (Sample excerpt: “The “Arab Spring” is revealed as part of the scheme to extend the Anglo-Zionist empire and its neo-liberal regime of plunder over the entire planet.”).
Jones was certainly less fond of “Vladymir Putin” (sic) in 2002. In the section entitled “Putin Uses Terror”, he reveals that Putin destroyed an apartment complex using explosive plastique, killing 350 people. Fifteen years later Jones would be on Twitter writing stuff like “Looking forward to Putin giving me the new hashtags to use against Hillary and the dems… “ In fairness, Putin’s killing of 350 people happened a long time ago. You have to let stuff slide eventually.
The book runs out of material by the end, so Jones pads it out with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Communist Manifesto (which he insists was written by“global banking cartels”.) It’s gratuitous and pointless. All you need is Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men and the book could serve as a middle-schooler’s summer reading list. Infowars’ slogan is “there’s a war on for your mind!” Jones’ personal solution is to not have one.